Here’s the problem I have with the Wakefield story…

According to legend, Mrs. Wakefield was making her favorite classic cookie, the “Butter Drop Do” when fate intervened and the Toll House Crunch was invented. So the story goes, she normally put Baker’s chocolate in her Butter Drop Do’s, which, so the tale would have us believe, melted completely into the batter during baking. This is problematic on several levels. Firstly, according to American Cookery by Amelia Simmons (published 1796), the Butter Drop Do doesn’t have any chocolate in it. The formula is:

Rub one quarter of a pound butter, one pound sugar, sprinkled with mace, into one pound and a quarter flour, add four eggs, one glass rose water, bake.

Problem two is that Baker’s chocolate (which most people are surprised to discover isn’t a descriptor like “butcher’s twine” but a brand name…it was invented by Dr. James Baker in 1780) is pretty sturdy stuff, fairly high in cocoa solids and slower melting. Nestlé semisweet chips would almost certainly melt more readily that pieces of Baker’s “German’s Sweet Chocolate” which is the bar that Wakefield would most likely have been using.

Nope, my guess is that the official story is just one more example of charming, totally fabricated food history. Wakefield was a notoriously creative baker, and was undoubtedly experimenting with formulas and ingredients when she hit on the Toll House Crunch. But weeks or months spent fiddling with proportions are a lot less entertaining to hear about than a “Eureka” moment by the stove. In addition to being an excellent baker, it turns out that Wakefield was also a darn good marketer.

One thought on “Here’s the problem I have with the Wakefield story…”

  1. Thank you!! The story never made that much sense to me at all. Unless she ground the chocolate to powder or something, no way it would’ve melted so well.

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